21. The Seventh Kama
As Nicol Brinn strolled out from the door below his chambers in Piccadilly, a
hoarse voice made itself audible above his head.
"Police!" he heard over the roar of the traffic. "Help! Police!"
Detective Sergeant Stokes had come out upon the balcony. But up to the time
that Nicol Brinn turned and proceeded in leisurely fashion in the direction of the
Cavalry Club, the sergeant had not succeeded in attracting any attention.
Nicol Brinn did not hurry. Having his hands thrust in the pockets of his light
overcoat, he sauntered along Piccadilly as an idle man might do. He knew that
he had ample time to keep his appointment, and recognizing the vital urgency of
the situation, he was grateful for some little leisure to reject.
One who had obtained a glimpse of his face in the light of the shop windows
which he passed must have failed to discern any evidence of anxiety. Yet Nicol
Brinn knew that death was beckoning to him. He knew that his keen wit was the
only weapon which could avail him to-night; and he knew that he must show
himself a master of fence.
A lonely man, of few but enduring friendships, he had admitted but one love to
his life, except the love of his mother. This one love for seven years he had
sought to kill. But anything forceful enough to penetrate to the stronghold of Nicol
Brinn's soul was indestructible, even by Nicol Brinn himself.
So, now, at the end of a mighty struggle, he had philosophically accepted this
hopeless passion which Fate had thrust upon him. Yet he whose world was a
chaos outwardly remained unmoved.
Perhaps even that evil presence whose name was Fire-Tongue might have
paused, might have hesitated, might even have changed his plans, which, in a
certain part of the world, were counted immutable, had he known the manner of
man whom he had summoned to him that night.